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  • This is very common and believe it or not, can even be healthy in a relationship. The most important and most difficult thing to do in the moment is not to undermine your spouse’s discipline in front of your child. Of course you know this, but do you follow it? Find a time later when you can talk together about your different discipline styles and try to come to a compromise of how you both would like to see the discipline handled.

    Different approaches to discipline however, is not always a bad thing. I remember a situation with my 12 year old son, where I had heard he had done something I disapproved of. I sat him down and talked with him about the issue and he explained to me why everything was ok! When my husband got home, I told him what had happened and he went straight to my son. I wanted to step in and say, “No, I have already handled this and everything is fine!”, but I could not stop my husband in time. My husband’s style was not as “warm and fuzzy” as my mom style. Five minutes into the conversation between my husband and son, my son was telling him how he had lied and all that he had done wrong. I was in shock! I had totally fell for what my son had been telling me. However, he had a healthy fear of his father, and knew if he did not “come clean” it would make things worse. I knew right then the value of having a man’s discipline in my son’s life. My husband’s ways weren’t like mine and that was good! We have also had situations the other way, where his more aggressive style had not achieved the results we wanted and he had to ask for forgiveness and try a different approach

    We have now raised 4 healthy children despite the trial and error of their parents, and I believe I have softened my husband on his approach and he has toughened me up with mine. Even though it was a challenge because we are so different, I can now see why God put the two of us together to create just the right blend. Look for the compromise in your relationship regarding the discipline of your children and both be willing to make changes and in the long run you will be pleased with the results! Remember your way is not always the right way!!

  • There is no shortage of marital advice among family, friends, books, the Internet … the list goes on and on. With that said, I wanted to share not as a professional, but as a wife. Here are a few things that I believe have made my marriage—which is far from perfect—stronger. Perhaps one of these will encourage you as well.

    Put your faith first.

    Marriage is hard and we make a ton of mistakes. I’ve noticed that when my personal relationship with Christ is suffering from neglect, my attitude and effort in my marriage suffer. For example, when I mess up, I am more likely to make excuses and point fingers than take an honest look at what God may be teaching me.

    Be willing to hit “pause.”

    We can let our lives get so busy, can’t we? I know as a mom who is also a hyper-planner, I can get in major task mode. So when my husband makes a quick statement about the phone call he just got from one of the students he coaches, I have a choice. I can either give a generic response and move one with my task (Heaven forbid I fall behind – gasp!) or I can hit “pause.” If I stop what I am doing, consciously put my project aside, and give him my full attention, I give room for something far greater than the task at hand. Connection. Intimacy. Support. It’s not always about the big moments. Sometimes it’s about all the little ones added up over days and weeks.

    Out-serve one another.

    Okay, I stole this one from the couple that, for me, epitomize what a Christ-centered marriage looks like. I remember Becky Graham telling me that she and Harold each try to “out-serve” one another. I love that! It’s really about taking the idea of putting the other person first and attempting to live that out in practical ways each day, whether that’s packing a lunch, leaving an encouraging note, or doing the dishes.

    Try “date night” in.

    One of the popular—and valid—suggestions to improve a marriage is to have a regular date night out. While we love going out together, we have come to prefer a scheduled date night in. One of us goes to pick up take out—usually Chipotle or Olive Garden—while the other gets the kids ready for bed or for a movie-night camp out. It’s more laid back (no rushing to get out the door at a specific time and no rushing to get back to pick up the kids before bed), more economical (no childcare expenses, plus take-out is usually cheaper because you can split large meals, save the tip, and / or use your own beverages), and more “real” (you can have conversations in your home that you might not have in a restaurant, whether it’s hashing out a conflict that’s been building over the week or listening to some of the deepest hopes and fears of your spouse’s heart). Some of our best conversations have been over take out containers!

  • I could give you countless ideas of things that you could do with your spouse to improve your marriage but will give you the most important one in changing my marriage.

    Several years ago my wife and I were having a discussion (code for arguing) about my schedule and how hard I was working and that she was feeling like a disinterested third wheel. I of course gave her all of the reasons for why I was working so hard and that I would work harder to make her a priority. I really meant it, but to her it was words that she had heard on countless occasions that were never followed with actions that made her feel that she was the priority.

    After seeing the disappointment in her eyes I flippantly mentioned that I would be willing to schedule an appointment with her every week just like I did with people that were far less important than she was. She jumped all over it and after a few more minutes we agreed that I would go into the office late every Friday morning so that I could spend time with her.

    If I had known how important this was to our marriage I would have done it 30 years ago. We spend time having breakfast together, reading a book together, or simply talking through things that were going well or not going well. It wasn’t about what we were doing or saying, it was that she felt like she was a priority. That I was willing not to simply talk about it but willing to put her on my calendar and show her that she was and is my most important priority.